Briar Rose members - Left to right (Rob,Tony,Sharon,Steve and Lee)

Shoot report – NFAS National Championships 2018

NFAS National Championships

NFAS National Championships 2018

I’ve been pretty slow in writing up this shoot report for the nationals, partly due to work and partly due to not wanting it to come across very negative. Here’s hoping I have succeeded.

The NFAS National Field championship is an annual event bringing together archers from across the country for two days of intensive archery. The events location moves round the country and this year it would be held at the Cornbury Park Estate, Oxfordshire. Here is a link to last years event if you re interested.

The woodland was a mix broad leaf with a few areas of more dense and dark.

Saturdays woodland

Saturdays woodland

As expected for a national championship there was a good level of attendance with just under 400 archers competing in a variety of classes from sighted compounds to longbows.  There would be 2 courses, of unmarked distances ranging from a few yards to over 60 yards; with archers shooting one course on Saturday and one Sunday.

This year the format had changed slightly, going back to having targets of all paper faces as it had been when I first shoot the championships several years ago. In recent years there had been a trial of 60/40 split of paper faces to 3Ds. Another change meant we would be shooting a 40 target course rather than 36.

I’ve always been a fan of the nationals, speaking in favour of paper faces, but I have to say I can understand why so many become disheartened when shooting paper targets.  When you have to shoot multiple arrows as you aren’t sure if you are in the scoring zone or not it can be very tiring and frustrating. After all, the sound of an arrow hitting a paper face sounds the same as whether your arrow is scoring or not.

On the subject of target faces I have to say I do like the new Phoenix targets that were being used. Unlike the normal ones which are printed on waterproof fabric, these were printed on paper. The images on the faces are of a high definition, the only problem was there were a few too far to make out.

Saturday –

Saturday morning started with a short drive for us unlike some, as we’d managed to secure accommodation in a lovely little bed and breakfast only a few miles away from the venue.  It was a clear bright autumnal morning, with a slight chill in the air.

Ian shooting on Day one

Ian shooting on Day one

The practise lines was a little cramped as there were only four target bosses available for a warm up shot or two, which made it a bit of a squeeze, especially for the juniors. To be fair to the organisers though when I mentioned this to Harry (NFAS president) he said he’d notice this too and on Sunday there were a couple more target bosses.

Saturday I would shoot B course which had been set by Windrush archers whose grounds a stones throw from the venue (or should that be an arrow flight?)

Paper face big cat on Saturday

Paper face big cat on Saturday

I have to say I wasn’t feeling great. I’d been off work for a few days feeling like I was coming down with a flu bug, and I was nursing a bad stomach with really bad stomach cramps in the morning to a level I nearly withdrew about an hour in. I have to say how grateful I was to my group without whose support I don’t think I would have got through the day. Thankfully after a little lunch and some pain killers it started to settle down some.

B course

B course

B course had some nicely set up targets making some good use of the slopes and dips to hide dead ground. One target I think is worth mentioning was target 40 and I wish I’d taken a photo as it was one that caught the whole group out, as we all went low.

I liked the fact they had covered the target bosses which worked well, there may have been a few shots close to one another but I felt it was a safe course.

Ian shooting on Saturday

Ian shooting on Saturday

Overall the course flowed pretty well with few hold ups and we were finished by 4:30, which I was grateful for as I was beginning to flag a bit. It was back to the B&B to grab a shower and relax as Sunday would be an early start.

Day 2

Sunday would be a very early start with registration opening at 7 am and closing promptly at 8 am. I don’t think this early start was appreciated by some of the archers who had to journey from afar. Thankful my stomach had settled down and I wasn’t having the stomach cramps.

There was an announcement on the Sunday at the start clarifying one rule, whereby adult archers can’t walk forward of the red peg prior to shooting from the peg. But once you have shot from the red archers could walk forward to see if they are in the target, walking back to the white and / or blue to take subsequent shots. Personally I’m not keen on this rule as it is open to abuse, but maybe that is a post for another day.

Overall Sunday would be a slower day than Saturday, this may have partly been due to my shooting group being a group of 4 behind a group of 5. This meant we were often catching them up or waiting for them to finish shooting on several targets.  Also I think some of the delay was due to it being a tougher course, so archers were shooting more arrows. My shooting group would be different too, but still a good laugh and great to shoot round with Robin. On that note I’d like to say congrats to Emma on her placing, you deserved it, well done.

Emma on Sunday shooting one of the few close targets

Emma on Sunday shooting one of the few close targets

Unlike B course, A course had been set not by a club but a small group of volunteers. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for volunteering to set this course. Whilst I didn’t agree with the peg positions or sometimes choice of the faces, I do recognise the work involved. Thank you.

As I said the course was quite different in feel to the previous days. There seemed to be more open areas to the woodland and a few slopes and dips offering some nice possibilities for target placement. I think we might have started in the darker part of the wood or maybe the earlier start just made it feel darker.

I know that those archers who normally shoot longer distances coped better on A course, with some preferring it, but I like to be able to see where my arrow lands, but for me it didn’t feel as engaging. I think I have written before that if I find a course or shots interesting I tend to engage and enjoy shooting it, whether I score well or not. I didn’t get that with this course. I’m not a fan of seeing archers walking in the distance behind targets, even if they are 50 yards away or further I find it catches my eye and I become very conscious of over shooting the boss and their movements.

I was shooting with three good bare bow archers all shooting black carbon arrows with small fletchings, not the easiest to see at distance some of the target faces were set at. One in particular I thought was very stretched, a face on turkey face between trees at over 35 yards, with a scoring zone smaller that a dinner plate.

Robin shooting on A course on Sunday

Robin shooting the turkey target from white peg on A course on Sunday

I did speak to one of the course layers about my thoughts and concerns. He commented that the red pegs had been set further back to challenge the compound and sighted archers. I personally don’t think this logic works, but what’s done is done.

It might have helped to had marshals positioned to act as spotters but there was only on one target that had a marshal helping to spot the arrow fall, unfortunately the binoculars he was using weren’t really up to the task.

Sunday Course - shot into the hollow

Sunday Course – shot into the hollow

When you can’t see clearly where your arrow lands in a target, it can be hard to adjust for your next shot. The result of this is in you shooting multiple arrows. This results in archers getting tired, which results in more misses.

Robin Shooting a very long target on Sundays course

Robin Shooting a very long target on Sundays course

I know I have spoken to a few archers about my next observation and it is not specifically targeted at the course layers here but there is one thing I’m not found of when shooting paper faces , which is when the faces are not life size. So a bear or mountain ram at half or third actual size doesn’t feel right to me. Many of the faces were new ones so you aren’t used to the actual size of the target. Maybe having them in or around admin so people could have seen them would have helped. (I found out later that there were small printed versions by the practise area for archers to view, but these didn’t show actual size). Ok so this is sounding more and more about a moan, so I’ll stop there.

I have to say I was disappointed in personal performance and in some ways the course. Not the shots, because some looked very nice, like the hippo in the dip and a bear on the slope but the distances of the shots, especially from the red peg were too far. Not 100% sure that some of the faces used were set at appropriate distances for their size.

I think part of my problem was putting my foot down a hole just after lunch. Of course it would be the leg that I have ligament damage on the knee, so it gradually got more and more painful through the afternoon making it hard to have a stable stance. I’m glad I had one of my walking sticks in the car as I was in need of it by the end of the day.

Wasp peg discussion.

Bit of a tangent from the shoot report but I would like to raise this. I feel the championships could have been the perfect opportunity with the mixed courses for the society to use Wasp pegs for sighted compound and crossbow archers. I know there were a few archers who discussed this at the event with me and who knows maybe it is something for the organisers to consider next time. We have to consider that many attending were not shooting sighted bows and we want to be encouraging people to attend the event not discourage.

 

Emma on Sunday shooting a Baboon target face

Emma on Sunday shooting a Baboon target face

Anyway my congratulations to all medal winners and to anyone who survived the two days of competition, they were a couple of tough challenging courses over the two days. Though I am wondering whether I need to head back to Specsavers as some of those targets were hard to see.

It was a bit sad to see so many people leave early on Sunday once shooting had ended, with even more leaving once individual awards had completed and before the team ones were being announced. Maybe it was due to the very early start, the long day of shooting and distance to travel home.

Sharon managed to retain her national title as NFAS ladies flat bow champion, and we managed to win the nearest and dearest again. Another success was for Briar Rose Field Archers as we won the American flat bow team trophy, congratulations to other team members Steve and Tony Parsons. Lee won silver in the gents primitive class too. Sadly I only managed 4th in gents class this year, though in hindsight I think I was just grateful for surviving the two courses between stomach cramps and twisted knee, for those interested my knee has taken about a week to settle down. Special well done to Steve for making it round the two course as he had badly injured his knee in a car accident a couple of weeks earlier.

Briar Rose members - Left to right (Rob,Tony,Sharon,Steve and Lee)

Briar Rose members – Left to right Rob,Tony,Sharon,Steve and Lee.

Thanks to all involved in organising the nationals, from the course layers, car park stewards, catering and of course the now famous admin team (Shirley who did the admin had been in a car accident only a couple of weeks before and despite that did a sterling job) . Hopefully this hasn’t been too negative for you.

Thanks for reading.

Sharon on the ermin shot

Shoot report – Centaura bowmen – September 2018

Centaura Bowmen shot

Centaura Bowmen shot

Centaura Bowmen’s ground is over an hour drive from home on a good day, so it would be an early start for us to make sure we got there in good time. It is a ground we know quite well, situated outside Derby. For those interested you can read a previous shoot report here.

As it was it would be a warm and pleasant early autumn day, with great company as we were joined by the recently married Mr and Mrs Hands, shooting traditional bowhunter and bowhunter respectively. Congratulations to you both again, it was a great wedding.

Shooting group of Roger, Julie and Sharon

Shooting group of Roger, Julie and Sharon

Since our last visit to their grounds Centaura course layers had worked hard on resetting sections of the course, not easy in the confined space they have to work in. There were a few familiar shots for those that had visited before, such as their very short shot on the weasel. Overall I feel the hard work paid off and the changes worked pretty well, though maybe a few more arrows or red and white tape to clearly mark the new routes would have helped, as in a couple of places people tended to revert to old known routes, which now were defunct.

Mrs Hands shooting paper face

Mrs Hands shooting paper face

The course itself consisted of a 36 target course comprising a mix of paper faces and 3d targets. Many of the paper faces are custom faces produced in house. These have generous lines but some were a bit small for the distances they were set and not that clear to make out, like the chicken, yes chicken target. This was a light brown bird on a brown grass background. Another that sparked debate as it wasn’t that clear was the black badger on a black background, on a black boss.

Mrs Hands shooting

Mrs Hands shooting

There were a couple of predator prey shots would allow you to boast your scores if you were lucky enough to get the predator with the first arrow.

Roger aka Mr Hands shooting a paper face wolf

Roger aka Mr Hands shooting a paper face wolf

As I have said in previous shoot reports Centaura operate a lunch break as otherwise due to the route round the wood you would only pass catering once in the day. On this occasion they set a lunch hour break from 12:30 to 1:30. Maybe this was a bit too long but, it allowed archers to get back to the muster point and grab some food without having to have to then rush back out for the restart. This made for a more relaxing lunch break allowing archers to chat over a coffee and sandwich.

One thing I think the organisers do need to do is marshal the lunch break stop carefully. At 12:25 they sound a horn to inform archers to finish shooting the target they are on. Archers were instructed at muster not to start walking off course until the second horn sounded at 12:30. This was to ensure archers could walk safely off the course. Unfortunately not all archers followed these instructions, meaning some started walking off at 12:25, worse still some took short cuts across the course using old paths. I know I stopped one group who were walking off early.

Sharon shooting 3D panther

Sharon shooting 3D panther

As is pretty normal for Centaura the shoot was well attended with over 100 archers. The reworked course flowed well with no obvious hold ups though it was a little slower in the afternoon, possibly because it was post lunch or because we entered the area of the course which had quite a few smaller faces.

We, along with many other groups had shot 20 targets of the 36 target course by lunch break.

Despite being so well attended or maybe a testimony to good organisation involved, it was an early end with us leaving by 4:30 pm after all the prizes and raffles had been awarded.

Sharon shot well winning ladies American Flat bow and I managed to place first in gents flat bow too.

Thanks for reading.

Close up of bear and forester

Shoot Report – Spirit of Sherwood – August 2018

Spirit of Sherwood muster

Spirit of Sherwood muster

Firstly before I start this shoot report I along with Sharon would like to say a huge thanks to a wonderful host Karen for putting us up for the night and for the great Bar-B-Que on Saturday night before the shoot. The grounds are quite a long drive for us, so being able to stay over the night before was great. Anyway back to the important thing for you, the shoot report.

Spirit of Sherwood’s is a favourite for ours and has been for many years.  You can read a previous shoot report here if you are interested.

As normal Spirit of Sherwood is well attended

As normal Spirit of Sherwood is well attended

For those not familiar with Spirit of Sherwood’s grounds, it offers pretty flat terrain with a mix of woodland and as always is well attended. The course would comprise of 40 targets of mostly 3D targets.

As normal with Spirit of Sherwood’s course it is organised into 3 loops as it meanders round the mix leaf woodland around a central catering and admin point. There would be 5 of use in our shooting group that Sunday Derek, Chris and Nigel, joining Sharon and myself.

Sharon on the peg at Spirit of Sherwood

Sharon on the peg at Spirit of Sherwood

It would prove to be a very warm day which took a toll on many of the archers, ourselves included. To combat this Spirit had organised a series of water stations on the course, where people could top up there bottles. One very considerate factor was including a water source for the dogs too.

shot from the tower returned

shot from the tower returned

There were some familiar shots to those that have shot Spirit before, such as the shot from the tower, though it must be said that there has to be a very artistic member of Spirit of Sherwood clan as there are a couple of really amazing hand painted target faces. This includes the orc from the tower and a very cool large spider.

Shot between the trees at the Spirit of Sherwood shoot

Shot between the trees at the Spirit of Sherwood shoot

In contrast there was one paper face that was pretty tough to make out, that of the badger which was pretty hard to make out even when next to it.

3D target at Spirit of Sherwood

3D target at Spirit of Sherwood

As it was it would prove to be a slow day and I think this was largely due to the weather, sapping peoples strength, though I did here there were a couple of slow groups, which may have added to the delays. Possibly Spirit is a victim of its own success as it is known for being a good shoot and is very popular amongst many in the NFAS. It is also a shoot popular with newbies as the target are set at sensible distances and the terrain is fairly easy to navigate.

Sharon shooting at Spirit of Sherwood

Sharon shooting at Spirit of Sherwood

One shot which I thought showed a great level of creativity was that of the tree surgeon or forester stuck up a tree with a large black bear 3d below looking hungrily upwards. Great bit of course laying as the bear was set at a good sensible distance and nice scene setting.

3D bear and forester shot

3D bear and forester shot

The fun shot of the shoot saw the return of the moving target, the now famous or should that be infamous barn door. Complete with the sticker for those that missed.

View from the peg of shoot between the trees

View from the peg of shoot between the trees

Tough shot between the trees at a small 3D

close up of shot between the trees at a small 3D

Think the only down side of the event was outside of the organisers control, as the caters ran out of water! Not great as I think everyone was gasping for a drink by the end of the day.

Sharon didn’t shoot well in the afternoon and I think this was down to feeling tired from the heat and though she denies it I think having a sausage bap at lunch when feeling warm was not a good plan. We both came away with second places in flatbow.

Thanks for reading.